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Furman Drops Heartbreaker At UNC Asheville In Non-Conference Finale, 67-65

Devin Sibley
Devin Sibley

Asheville, N.C. -- Freshman Dylan Smith drained a jumper from the left elbow with 1.5 seconds remaining to lift UNC Asheville to a 67-65 victory over Furman in the non-conference finale for both schools on Tuesday evening at Kimmel Arena.

With Furman trailing 62-60 and 1:04 remaining, Stephen Croone made his first free throw of a two-shot foul to trim the deficit to one point.  He missed the second attempt, but grabbed the offensive rebound and scored on a jumper from the foul line with 43 seconds left to give the Paladins a 63-62 lead.

Smith answered for UNC Asheville (8-5) on their next possession by connecting on a three-pointer from the top of the key to give the Bulldogs a 65-63 advantage with 27.9 seconds left. Croone drew a quick foul on the offensive end and made both of his free throws to knot the game at 65-65 with 20.3 seconds to play.

UNCA isolated Smith against Croone on the final possession and the guard ran down the clock before hitting the fade away jumper from the elbow with 1.5 seconds to play.  Following a timeout, Furman attempted a full court inbounds pass, but Matt Rafferty's entry was tipped away to end the game.

Smith finished with 20 points on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc, while Kevin Vannatta led the Bulldogs with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Ahmad Thomas added 11 points to round out UNCA's double figure scorers.

Furman trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half before using an 11-0 run to grab a 31-30 lead early in the second period. The Bulldogs built their lead back to seven points and led 60-54 with under 3:30 remaining when Furman got five straight points from Rafferty and a Devin Sibley free throw to tie the contest at 60-60.

Croone and Sibley tallied 16 points apiece for the Paladins, while Rafferty totaled 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help Furman to a 37-34 edge on the boards. The Paladins, despite shooting 42.6 % from the field, connected on just 6-of-22 three-point attempts and 13-of-24 trips to the foul line.  Furman was also guilty of 17 turnovers as UNCA recorded 15 steals.

The Bulldogs shot 49% from the field, including 7-of-17 behind the three-point line.

Furman (6-7) returns home to open Southern Conference play when is hosts the VMI Keydets on Saturday at 4 p.m. The contest will be streamed live on ESPN3 and can also be heard on the Furman IMG Radio Network at WGOG 101.7FM and FoxSports 1440AM, as well as, on your mobile device through the TuneIn Radio app. Links for the video stream, radio broadcast and live statistics are posted at

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information